OT: Census "race" question
Hi,
I got the census form and have a question as to how you all are filling it out. So question number #5 asks for Spanish origin, etc. I understood that and put down Guatemalan for my children. However, #6 asks for race. There is no box for Spanish, Hispanic, etc. Above it says that Hispanic origins are not considered races for this census. Am I supposed to be checking "white" for #6? It seems weird to be checking that as their races but I'm not sure what else to put. There is an "other" box to write in a race, but I'm not sure what to put there because they aren't considering hispanic origins as a race. How have you all handled?
Thanks.
Hispanic is an ethnicity per hte US goverment. Race is seperate.

Teh standard US government races are:
Caucasain
African
American Indian/Pacific Islander- which does cover Maya Indian from Central America
Asian
Other- where other can be how you choose to categorise you or your child.


These are meant to be self reported- there is no right or wrong.

So for example- for my son- if I reported based on the interview with his birth mother at referral- I would report
Caucasian (she used the term Ladino to describe her race) and I would also indicate Guatemalan under #5.

If I use the information from the birht mother search report
I would check:
caucasian
African
American Indian
I would indicate Guatemalan under #5


If you are not sure- you can indicate "Multi" #6 under other.


I hope this helps
Is Mayan considered a race? Our son's birth mother is Mayan, but we don't know what his birth father is. I never thought I'd have this much trouble with a census question!
I agree that the question is just structured strangely--I also felt like there was no category for my non-Mayan, but not white child. While I understand that they did it for ease of people filling it out, it strikes me as odd and immensely confusing that Chinese, Japanese, Korean are considered "race" answers and Guatemalan is considered an ethnicity.
Go here for a full explanation:

[url=http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/race/racefactcb.html]Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond[/url]

Guatemala is actually a great example of why the US government does not treat race = ethnicity. Anyone who is from Guatemala is "Hispanic" because it is recognized as a Spanish speaking country. So Ethnicity = Hispanic.

However, you can be from Guatemala and be (race):
- descended from one of the original Spanish colonial families (white)
- one of the Mennonites who started moving to Guatemala in the 1940s (white)
- mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage but identify with the dominant, Spanish speaking culture (white or mixed depending on how you want to identify)
- Garifuna -- who are descended from Afro-Caribbean slaves (black)
- Ashkenazi Jews who fled Nazi Germany (white)
- one of the more recent Korean or Chinese immigrants (Asian)
- Maya (indigenous; there's debate as to whether American Indian applies in the US census as that is usually a term used for tribes the federal government recognizes, but it's probably the best fit on our forms)
- Xinca (indigenous but non-Maya people; same debate as for Maya)

So what does it mean to say you're "Guatemalan"? It can mean a lot of different things. In the US context, though a "white" Guatemalan is not going to be treated in the same way as a dark-haired, dark-skinned Guatemalan. The US government counts race and ethnicity largely in order to give the raw numbers necessary to track and rectify racism and discrimination -- which in the US is largely based on skin color.

Since 1977 the US census has treated "race" separate from "ethnicity" so this is nothing new. The difference is that they used to treat "ethnicity" simply as "Hispanic or non-Hispanic" and there were four racial categories. (See "Old Standards" in the link above.) Now there are more options.

Is it confusing? Yes -- especially for people who haven't had to think about it before because they're in the dominant group. Is it adequate or useful? That's up for debate. But to their credit, I think, the government is trying to come up with a couple of questions to summarize something that is very complex. I find it helpful to remember that they are not trying to capture what people's identities mean for them --- they're simply trying to get numbers so that when a business says "We didn't hire any ____ people because none live in our town" they can come back with, "Actually, ____ people do live in your town in large numbers, so we're going to look into whether there is active discrimination going on in your company." (An overly simplified example, but hopefully it conveys my point.)
FWIW, our family chose to identify our daughter as Guatemalan (in the fill-in-the-boxes section for hispanic origin) and white for race. Most people agree that hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, though I do understand that some folks aren't comfortable with the limited racial categories available when self identifying. As someone pointed out, there is no "wrong" choice. You self identify. As your chil grows older if you're really curious, you can always do the DNA ancestry project and get a clearer picture of what groups of people make up their generational background. Ah well, it's not something I wanted to over-complicate and we're quite comfortable with our choice. Smile
Devora - thank you for such a well-thought out reply. I always learn something from you!

I'm an educator and posed a similar question to our DPI, because the way that all students and staff self-identify is changing on the student registration forms. They feel that American Indian includes more than just the US...also includes Central and South America. For what that's worth...

Thank you for this thread, I came here looking for an answer to this exact question!!!!!!
[FONT=Book Antiqua]Verrrry Confusing!!!! Gee Whiz, didn't realize this census was going to be such a brain teaser!! :confused: [/FONT]
Thanks for the comments. I ended up choosing the "white" box and also the fill in the box as "maya". I think that is probably the closest fit for us.
Personally i think instead of white they should have made it from European decent. But that is my opion and probably nobody elses. Since most whites are from Europe at one point in time. It would have made question number 6 easier to answer.
In our case, i answered white and other.
Here's what I wrote.

Me: Some other race: "Caucasion" (I am not white).

Kids: Yes, other Hispanic: "Born in Guatemala"; Some other race: "Indigenous American."

Enough info for them to figure it out.

I am very suspicious of the separate question about Hispanic origin. I smell a huge agenda. The whole race/ethnicity business has me quite irritated. It takes up the majority of the census. I'd leave it blank if I thought it was allowed.
I was just going to ask this very question!!! Thank you -- we also did Hispanic for question #5 and put Guatemalan (since they show an example of Salvadoran) and #6 we put white.

What about mestizo for #6. Not sure if that is appropriate, too???
SKL said...
Here's what I wrote.

Me: Some other race: "Caucasion" (I am not white).

Kids: Yes, other Hispanic: "Born in Guatemala"; Some other race: "Indigenous American."

Enough info for them to figure it out.

I am very suspicious of the separate question about Hispanic origin. I smell a huge agenda. The whole race/ethnicity business has me quite irritated. It takes up the majority of the census. I'd leave it blank if I thought it was allowed.


it is allowed- you don't have to mark anything- you are self identifying.
DH and I had this same conversation this evening. He said we should choose white, I said we should choose American Indian and specify tribe as Maya. Who knows. Seems like we did what others have done as well. This is all so confusing at times.
You can choose BOTH
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